The Violent Reality Behind the "Peaceful #NoDAPL Protester" Myth

Courtesy of Morton County, ND Sheriff's Department

Courtesy of Morton County, ND Sheriff's Department

One of the most enduring myths about the Dakota Access pipeline protesters is that they were all nonviolent citizens united in “peaceful, prayerful resistance” against the pipeline. But a lawsuit recently filed against Greenpeace and other anti-pipeline activists tells a very different story.

According to the complaint filed by Energy Transfer Partners, the company that built the Dakota Access pipeline, a group of “co-conspirators”—including Greenpeace, BankTrack, and Earth First!—“incited, funded, and facilitated crimes and acts of terrorism” against the Dakota Access pipeline, “causing enormous harm to people and property along the pipeline's route.”

Specifically, they allege that the radical activist group EarthFirst! provided $500,000 in seed money to a group of “violent eco-terrorist infiltrators” who then “initiated direct action training for its own members and other protestors interested in engaging in violent conflict and incited and perpetrated acts of terrorism.”

These eco-terrorists used that funding to form the Red Warrior Camp, a group of radicals who are so violent and aggressive that the Standing Rock Sioux tribal council voted unanimously last November to banish them from the encampment. But by then the violence and damage had already occurred.

Following are just a few accounts of protester violence that the Red Warrior Camp initiated during the “peaceful protests” against the Dakota Access pipeline (taken verbatim from the lawsuit):

On August 12, 2016, roughly 350 members of Red Warrior entered onto Dakota Access property, without permission. Due to threats of violence, Dakota Access personnel had to be evacuated from Dakota Access’s property by police escort. Enterprise members swarmed departing company vehicles and threw rocks and bottles at them.

On Saturday, September 3, 2016, gathering protestors, led and whipped into a frenzy by Red Warrior … threatened security personnel with knives, hit them with fence posts and flagpoles, and otherwise physically attacked private security personnel retained by Energy Transfer, resulting in multiple security guards and dogs being hospitalized.

On October 27, 2016, a large group of people incited and led by Red Warrior Camp entered Dakota Access property near Highway 1806 … set up makeshift barriers and lit them on fire to prevent the officers from accessing the site and threw Molotov cocktails, logs, rocks, debris, and even urine at the officers. … They also set fire to numerous vehicles, three pieces of Dakota Access construction equipment, and two bridges. During the course of the attack, Red Fawn Fallis, a radical eco-terrorist, fired three shots from a pistol at a police officer, narrowly missing a police deputy. Fallis has since been arrested and charged with attempted murder.

On November 20, 2016, approximately 650 protesters, incited and led by Red Warrior Camp, gathered at Backwater Bridge in Mandan, North Dakota. [and] started numerous fires on and around the bridge and camps and threw objects and homemade weapons, including grenades and flares, at law enforcement officers. They also threw flares into the sky and aimed strobes and high-output spotlights at Dakota Access security helicopters.

In a display of unbridled arrogance, Red Warrior activists recorded their violent actions and posted them online as “recruitment videos … to encourage the public to travel to protest camps where Red Warrior members trained new members on how to conduct attacks on construction sites and personnel.” They also used these videos to raise money, which they then used “to buy drugs out of state and sell them at the Camps at enormous profits,” according to ETP’s lawsuit.

If it’s true, as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,” the harsh light of ETP’s lawsuit is going to do some real damage to the violent activists behind the anti-pipeline movement—and the groups that fund them.